The fundamentals of the pig industry

In modern livestock farming, a lot is said about precision, genetics, etc. and we forget about the three fundamental pillars, which come in this order:


That’s right, the bare necessities.

Not to be confused with that catchy tune from The Jungle Book.

The observant and logical among us will already know that water is a nutrient and that it cannot be separated from food. It is a primary constituent of the body, which needs to be ingested in greater quantities than solid feed and yet, it is the great forgotten element in the livestock sector.

In life, the simple things tend to be easier and more effective than complex things, and observation and logic (empirical science) usually wins out over hard science. For humans and animals alike, water is an essential nutrient.

So it makes sense to talk about oxygen, water and solid feed, i.e., air, drink and food. In Spanish, these elements correspond to aire, bebida and comida, or the ABCs. This concept was developed in 1897 on the basis of remarks by V. Pareto and we now understand it to mean the cornerstone, essence or foundation of something.

“In livestock farming, both air (A) and food (C) are more developed, researched and continuously evolving. Whereas,water (B) remains forgotten, neglected and scarcely studied”.

In farms and feed mills, major investments are made in ventilation, effectiveness studies, formulations, supplements, new generation additives, etc. In contrast, water is seen as something basic, which can be treated with any biocide to make it fit for use. It is regarded as just another aspect of biosecurity and little research is carried out into it.

And so, the time has come to talk about WATER, in capitals, to put it in its rightful place as the second fundamental pillar of livestock farming, and to stop treating it as a secondary element.

If we take it for what it is and we treat it properly, any farm (no matter the type or the species farmed), will see a much greater economic return than we imagined, especially with the current regulations on the withdrawal of antibiotics and zinc oxide, alongside any other future developments.

We must delay no longer in addressing this matter professionally and understanding that merely applying a biocide to water is not enough. It is essential to:

  • Pre-treat it
  • Apply the right biocide
  • Store it and distribute it properly
Furthermore, we must not forget that we use water as a vehicle for all kinds of generic treatments and that these often cause precipitation in the pipes, which greatly hinders drinking water from reaching the drinking troughs.

Some supplementation is prolonged over time, which minimizes the theoretical beneficial effect it may have and causes problems in the facilities. But this issue is for another article, which will look in depth at these treatments and the systems being used to carry them out.

And I’ll end as I began.

Every technician, farm manager or person involved in the sector who acts on logic should think carefully about these essentials—the ABCs, as it were—and give WATER the importance it deserves.

The industry would welcome it.